Sep 20, 2013
11:43 AM
History

Photos: The New England Hurricane of 1938

Photos: The New England Hurricane of 1938

Courtesy of Old Saybrook Historical Society

Katharine Hepburn amid the remains of her home in Old Saybrook after the Hurricane of '38.

The New England Hurricane of 1938 remains the most powerful and deadliest hurricane in New England history. Modern analyses reveal that the hurricane was at Category 3 intensity at both landfalls and place the maximum sustained winds in the 120–125 mph range. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy did far more property damage in terms of dollars (despite its lower intensity at landfall); however, the 1938 storm still stands as the second costliest storm to strike New England.

During the early hours of Sept. 21, the storm, centered several hundred miles to the southeast of Cape Hatteras, weakened slightly. By 8:30 a.m. EDT, the hurricane was centered approximately 100 miles (160 km) due east of Cape Hatteras, and its forward speed had increased to well over 50 mph During the 9 a.m. EDT hour, the hurricane sped through the Virginia tidewater. Between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. EDT, the New Jersey coastline and New York City caught the western edge of the hurricane. The full force of the hurricane started to reach Long Island after 2:30 p.m. EDT, and the eye made landfall at Bayport in Suffolk County shortly after 3 p.m. EDT. By 4 p.m. EDT, the eye had crossed Long Island Sound and was making a second landfall just east of New Haven, Connecticut. Eastern Connecticut was in the eastern side of the hurricane. Small shoreline towns to the east of New Haven had nearly complete destruction from the water and winds. To this day, the 1938 hurricane holds the record for the worst natural disaster in Connecticut’s 350-year history.

By 5 p.m. EDT, the eye moved into western Massachusetts, and by 6 p.m. EDT, the hurricane reached Vermont.

 

Surf pounds away at a sidewalk in Milford during the storm.

 

The tide tore away the railroad tracks in New Haven.

For the full photo gallery, visit New Haven Register online.

 

Photos: The New England Hurricane of 1938

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